Posted by: ckckred | December 19, 2012

2012: The Apocalypse as a Soap Opera

California collapses into the Pacific Ocean

And no, that title isn’t a compliment

As the 21st approaches, I thought I might review the mega-disaster movie 2012, made by only the king of disaster movies himself Roland Emmerich.  The Mayan calendar only stretches to December 2012.  Does that mean that the world will end before January?  Or does that mean that the Mayans were just tired of writing dates?

Regardless, 2012 is a movie where pretty much Emmerich just shows off his big budget.  Tsunamis crash, buildings collapse, fissures appear.  Monuments are destroyed like the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building.  There are explosions!  That never seem to end!  The movie’s action goes on and on and on and on and grows repetitive very quickly.

But wait, there’s a plot involved in all of this!  A writer named Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) discovers the apocalypse is coming from a conspiracy nut appropriately played by Woody Harrelson.  Jackson tells his family, which consists of his two children (Liam James and Morgan Lily) and his ex-wife (Amanda Peet), plus her obnoxious, plastic surgeon boyfriend (Thomas McCarthy).  Soon they discover that the government has covered the apocalypse up and has planned a system of arks for survival in Tibet for all the world’s leaders and anyone who can buy a ticket, which costs a billion dollars each.

There’s also a subplot that’s even cornier and more cliché filled.  The President (Danny Glover) has decided to stay and not go on the arks to deliver one last speech.  Dr. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is the scientific advisor to the president, mourns his death while dealing with the developments of the arks.

There’s one thing I never quite understood about the film: what’s causing the apocalypse?  The movie gives an explanation through a video Woody Harrelson’s character makes that I found rather confusing (it has something to do with solar flares) and it makes absolutely no sense at all how the Mayans predicted it.  Moreover, anyone with a sense of logic can see that the disasters that occur are clearly impossible.

But no one goes to a movie like 2012 for actual fact (at least I hope not), people go to see a dumb fun action movie.  But 2012 isn’t that.  It’s a film that acts exactly like a soap opera, almost as if someone combined General Hospital with Transformers.  There are plenty of scenes made to be tearjerkers, such as the President’s last address.  To be fair, the end of the world is not something that’s quite very uplifting but come on!  2012 was billed as a fun time at the movies and it is betraying its audience by being so melodramatic.

Compare that to another Emmerich movie Independence Day, where aliens have come to take over the world.  Like 2012, there is no logic in Independence Day, but Independence Day knew it was a goofy, unbelievable film and accepted it.  When the aliens blow up every city in the world, no one mourns.  It’s unbelievable but Independence Day wants its audience to have fun instead of grieve.  I can’t call Independence Day a good movie at all but it is very entertaining and delivers what its viewers want.  2012 doesn’t do this.

That’s too bad because there’s actually some talent here.  Danny Glover is a great actor who I don’t think needs any introduction and while I’m not a fan of John Cusack, he has given good performances such as in Being John Malkovich.  And even though he irks some people, I like Woody Harrelson.  But they’re wasted in this movie and given nothing good to do.  Maybe the Mayans thought that the real disaster of 2012 was the movie instead of the date.



  1. Man I hated this film. It looks pretty but as just nothing of substance whatsoever. I think I’ve managed to block most of it out fortunately.

    • Yeah, it’s terrible even by Emmerich’s standards. I don’t know why I watched it, I knew it was going to be bad. Thanks for commenting.

  2. “Maybe the Mayans thought that the real disaster of 2012 was the movie instead of the date.” – Best line in the review!

  3. I was really bored seeing this movie in theaters. I was in sixth grade when I saw it, and I guess I loved it for the first half, which was mindless yet exciting. The rest was an hour in excess. I’d probably hate it if I saw it again.

    • I felt bored in the picture as well. The action grew very repetitive, and I really don’t like when movies try to make you cry and this one did it all the time. I definitely will never see this one again. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Nice post. As 21st is looming, I thought I would also review some apocalypse film, since ‘Melancholia’ is already reviewed by me and I like Cusack I thought I’d go for ‘2012’. However, seeing the score on rotten tomatoes, and then half-way through the film, I changed my mind. I just could not find anything to say, except: ‘grand and bad’. ))

    • Yeah, I was planning an Apocalypse marathon myself, but was too lazy to write any other reviews.

      “Grand and bad” is the best way to sum up the movie. Thanks for commenting.

  5. “Disaster Porn” LOL

    That term got coined specifically after this movie. 😀 Ridiculous.

    • Yeah, that’s exactly the best way to describe it. Thanks for commenting.

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